Alexie was on Star Search as a kid in a group called "The Hip Hop Kids." Freaking adorable. She also notes that while on the show, she was judged by a younger and insanely foxy Adam Shankman. She gets assigned Twitch and a NapTab hip-hop routine. Twitch is impressed with the sexiness as they rehearse their tale of sneaky young love. The conceit is built around a window, because the guy's throwing pebbles up there to get her attention. It's also set to a Jason Mraz song, which ought to make Tabitha and Napoleon's detractors awfully happy. Once again, the judges and I are in direct opposition; I really snapped to Alexie's cool vibe, but Mia specifically calls out her lack of swag or coolness. I'm not sure about "swag," but I thought Alexie seemed confident and unfazed by anything. But the consensus seemed to be that it was too cute and lacked power.
Everybody's favorite pretty blonde, Lauren, is next. Her secret talent is that she works with kindergarteners. Half of whom might be taller than she is. She partners with Ade on a Mandy Moore jazz routine. The concept is two kids creeping on a first date, and Lauren's task is to BE MORE SEXY. On stage ... okay, when they showed Mandy Moore, my first thought was "What '80s relic is she going to score this one to?" And then BAM! The "Ohhhh Yeah (Chicka Chicka)" song from Ferris Bueller. (You are a sucker if you look up who sang it. It could not matter less.) I love you, Mandy Moore. The dance itself involves a lot of Ade manipulating Lauren's movements, a lot of couch work, and a lot of him catting around after her. It's fun but kind of meandering, in a bad Tyce way. All three judges declare open season on Lauren, calling her "fun but sterile" (Nigel), unemotional (Mia), and worst of all disinterested in taking criticism (Adam). Lauren assures him that's not the case, and he psychoanalyzes her for a moment, and nobody cares. I like Lauren a lot, and she needs to dance a lot better than this, but this was pretty clearly a "break Lauren down to build her back up" action taken against a girl whose high self-regard needed to be taken down a peg so people will vote for her.
Kent! I love Kent, as you know. His big secret is that he was the Homecoming King in high school. Wow, DUH. If your school had a Kent Boyd, you would elect him Homecoming King too, I don't care how sports-obsessed y'all are. He partners with Anya, which is scary at first, but they seem to be getting along famously, despite the fact that she could swallow him whole, bones and all. The teach has a lot to do with The Butchening of Kent Boyd, which promises to be an ongoing mini-series all season. This cha-cha is set to some gayer, disco-ier version of "Lady Marmalade," as if that were possible. And I promise you this isn't my Kent-love talking -- I actually expected him to struggle mightily here -- but Kent KILLS THAT SHIT. You know how there's one dancer every season who just totally transforms their persona and pulls it all together once they hit the stage (Katee, for example)? I was not expecting Kent to be that dancer, but tonight? He is. He appears a good five years older, and while he occasionally pulls a face he's remarkably in character for ballroom. His legwork is imperfect but quite impressive, and best of all, he's able to keep up with Anya, who is a beast. When it's over, Kent practically jumps on Anya, and then Cat wraps him up in the biggest hug. In front of the judges, he preemptively defends his duck lips (hee) and endures a lame "cougar" joke from Nigel, which was either directed at Cat or Anya, in either case: SHUT UP, Nigel. All three judges pick on one flouncy movement he delivered, but otherwise they've been rendered giddy by the sheer force of Kent's personality and skill. Adam compares Kent to Dominic and Gev (shout out, Gev!) in terms of throwing himself into something completely new. He also gets off the night's best metaphor, calling the routine "every parent's nightmare" where their lost little boy ends up in the lion cage, dancing with a lion ready to maul him. YES. Anya is a LION. Much better. I love that Adam totally gets Kent, because Kent is a total proto-Adam Shankman anyway.